PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders to Push for Earned Citizenship

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PRESS RELEASE: Evangelical Leaders to Push for Earned Citizenship

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 18, 2013 — Evangelical leaders today announced a statement of support for earned citizenship as part of broad, bipartisan immigration reform. The Evangelical Immigration Table’s call is rooted in the biblical values of human dignity and respect.
The conversation around immigration has changed among evangelicals and is changing in Congress, where leaders are hearing the call of evangelicals and others who are pushing for a road to earned citizenship. Evangelical leaders have continued to build momentum: They met with President Obama on March 8 to talk about immigration reform and are in the midst of a Christian radio ad campaign in South Carolina in support of immigration reform informed by biblical principles. Speakers on today’s call also noted the impact of the continuing “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge.

The following statements can be attributed to speakers on today’s call:

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“We’re pleased that all of the serious proposals that have been put forward for fixing our broken immigration system do involve having a way for those who are here in an undocumented status to come forward and identify themselves and then be able to earn permanent residency and eventually citizenship. … We want to see at the end of the day an opportunity for the folks who have been here, who have been working hard and contributing but lacking that legal status, to be able to eventually become citizens like the rest of us.”

Robert Gittelson, President and Co-Founder, Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
“All of our organizations [in the Evangelical Immigration Table], from the more progressive groups to the more conservative organizations, didn’t have significant daylight between us in how we felt about the issue of earned citizenship. We were unanimous in our conclusion that both from a moral perspective as well as from the perspective of our shared American values, we all felt that some kind of rigorous yet attainable pathway towards eventual citizenship was appropriate and just. … Aspiring Americans should be able to swear their oath of allegiance and fealty to our great nation [and] be able to assume the oath of citizenship. They should have an eventual yet unfettered access to the full pursuit of our shared American dream.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“The National Latino Evangelical Coalition is so hopeful that there’s strong bipartisan support, that the Evangelical Immigration Table, with evangelicals from all over the political spectrum and ideological spectrum, have gotten behind a legalization process that gives people a path to citizenship. We believe that now is the time, that the moral standard is being met … Many of our congregations are full of immigrants that just want to contribute to the American dream and contribute to the American economy.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners:
“As evangelicals we don’t believe there are second class images of God, and therefore we don’t believe in a second class status for people who are willing to follow an earned path toward citizenship. That’s very important to us. … We’ve been through a conversion on this as evangelicals, a biblical conversion, a relational conversion, and really a conversion about the future of the church. … Faith leaders can offer to political leaders both courage and coverage, sometimes, to do the right thing … we think that’s happening now and we’re very encouraged by the atmosphere on this issue.”

Jenny Yang, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, World Relief:
“We believe that immigrants will contribute to the social fabric of our country and really build upon the values that our country was founded upon. … For many in the evangelical community, we strongly feel like we should not create bad policy for the sake of political expediency that will only kick the can down the road, but we should address this issue once and for all and really create a permanent pathway for immigrants to earn the right to stay in this country but also earn citizenship as well. [Earned citizenship] makes social sense, it makes economic sense, and for those in the evangelical community, it’s something that we meaningfully embrace as something that’s an important part of the immigration debate.”


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